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Taiketsu Rumiizu! (対決るみーず!) - 3DO / PlayStation (1995)

by John Szczepaniak

3DO Cover

PlayStation Cover

Taiketsu Rumiizu!

For a long time Taiketsu Rumiizu was highly sought after by 3DO collectors, since a couple of tiny screenshots online made it appear like a fun-looking Bomberman clone. Most referred to it as Taiketsu! Rooms, which is bizarre seeing as the exclamation mark is quite clearly shown on the cover and title screen as coming after Rumiizu. Even the Japanese Wikipedia entry makes this mistake. The Rooms moniker is also a misnomer, or perhaps a pun that doesn't make sense - the word るみーず is a play-on-words of みず (kanji: 水), meaning water. Which makes sense given that the game is about trapping your opponent in streams of water. It's also been discovered that there's a PS1 version.

Taiketsu Rumiizu!

None of this really matters of course because the game, at least the 3DO version tested, is so broken as to be borderline unplayable. The basic concept is you and up to three other players are trapped in a maze, Bomberman style, with a series of valves and adjacent holes. Spend several seconds turning a valve and it releases a stream of water which, if it touches you or another player, will carry them along until both disappear down a drain. If a stream reaches a corner, it follows it around, while if hits a wall it splits in two. Bomberman worked because it was easy to see instantly where and how an explosion would travel - with Taiketsu, you need to work backwards from an opponent to a nearby valve, which is akin to solving an algebra equation every time Bomberman wants to drop his explosive package.

The drains which mark an end-point meanwhile randomly appear and disappear, as do instant death traps, such as whirlpools. This makes it impossible to predict the outcome of anything. A water stream may suddenly be swallowed by a drain which wasn't there before, and likewise you could die at any point from a whirlpool. Activating the water streams also takes several seconds, so by the time you've calculated a stream's trajectory, gone to the correct valve and spent time turning it, all opponents on-screen will have moved. There is no skill involved at all, meaning it's more like one of those "party" games which people play solely to goof around, even though it's really the equivalent of button-mashing with a random number generator. That might sort of be acceptable in a multiplayer scenario, but trudging through the single player campaign to face the bosses is mind-numbingly tedious. Still, there's not much of a point to it, because Taiketsu Rumiizu is an irredeemable washout. Haha! Geddit? Because it's got water in it and... oh, never mind.

Taiketsu Rumiizu!

Taiketsu Rumiizu!

Taiketsu Rumiizu!

Taiketsu Rumiizu!


Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game - IBM PC (1998)

by Bobinator

Mr. Pibb Logo

Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game

Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game

For as long as video games have existed, there have been games based on the food and drink you've probably ingested several hundred times in your life. They were especially popular in the mid-90's or so, with the emergence of Cool Spot, the mascot for 7-Up who ended up getting quite a few of his own games. Some of these games were actually pretty fun, like Treasure's early effort, McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure. Some, well... weren't. Mr. Pibb, for those of you who haven't had it, is more or less Dr. Pepper. To get to the point, however, the developers decided to take the license and turn it into an FPS. While this sounds like a weird idea, Chex Quest ended up so... well, not terrible that there was a chance this would end up being the same. Sadly, it was not to be.

All the plot is given to you at the start of a program, where a mad scientist has turned all the students and staff of your high school into evil zombies. Somehow, the cure to zombification is to burp at the zombies until they're transformed back into human beings. The object of the game is to find a way to get to the mad scientist holed up under the school and defeat him to return everything to normal. You burp at him, too. The whole 'shoot aliens with energy weapons to return them to their home dimension' idea from Chex Quest was silly, but at least it made some sort of SENSE.

The first thing you'll notice once the game starts is the large, poorly drawn logo for Mr. Pibb hanging near your health bar. It actually looks like something that came out of Sweet Bro & Hella Jeff, so feel free to scream out 'IT KEEPS HAPPENING' any time you end up being frustrated in the game. Which you very much WILL. It's not actually clear if you're actually playing as the head of "Mr. Pibb", but the idea of a giant, disembodied head burping at things is too hilarious to not assume so.

The game runs on an engine apparently known as ACKNEX, going by what it says when you boot the game. It's somewhere between Doom and Quake in tech. On one hand, there's water you can swim in and bridges overlooking rooms, but everything's made of sprites. A couple of years before the release of Quake 2, it might have looked somewhat impressive, but in 1998, it just looks amateurish. There's only one extra-large level set in a high school, where you search for the keys and items you need to reach the final boss. The game does at least try to look like a school with its limited engine, so there's actual classrooms you can enter with blackboards and desks, as well as a cafeteria and gym. The problem is that all the geometry still ends up looking the same, although at least you get an auto-map.

The problem with the game that every single part of it ends up being either unintentionally hilarious, terrible, or some combination of both. There are only two enemy types not counting the 'boss' at the end of the game, and one is just a recolor that takes more hits to transform. All the zombies do is slowly shuffle towards you and very, very slowly drain your health by about 1 point per two seconds. While they're easy to defeat, the problem is once they turn back into 'regular' people, they'll stand exactly where you transformed them. Hitting them will cause them to bitch at you and take away some of your health, which is really a pain when there's enemies standing between them.

There are three weapons you can use against the zombies. Your standard burp fires so fast and does so much damage there's barely any reason to use much else, but you can also collect megaphones for 'Mega Burps', as well as a straw that lets you spit anti-zombie antidote. And of course, there's giant cups of Mr. Pibb laying all over the school to restore your health, and with how common they are and how little damage enemies actually do, you really have to be almost actively trying to dip below 100 health. Aside from weapons and health, you also have to collect items to bypass certain obstacles. The problem is that both the items are hidden in such obscure places that you'll have to scour the level several times over in order to actually FIND them.

While the 3D is decent, decent enough that it supports both being able to swim through water and room over room, the sprites are hideous. They look like something that would come off of a Geocities page, and they all animate about as well. The school also apparently only has two students and two teachers, and then clone them all dozens of times.

The sound is even worse, especially since Mr. Pibb comments on everything you do in a very loud, annoying voice. Every time you pick up health, you get "PUT IT IN YOUR HEAD!" screamed at you, and "NAH-AHHHHH!" every time you walk into a locked door. The sound also has the tendency to double over itself, which can get very painful if you have your volume up too high. The only music is a very loud, repetitve song that starts as soon as the program loads and loops on end forever.

Basically, Mr. Pibb's game is confusing, annoying, and dated, much like its own mascot. It's not much fun to play, and if the music doesn't break your ears, the voice clips will end up doing so. There's pretty much no variety in anything, even considering the game is only one level long, and the only possible challengine is getting hopelessly lost. Whatever you do, stay far away and play Chex Quest instead.

Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game

Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game

Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game

Mr. Pibb: The 3D Interactive Game


Top Banana - Amiga (1992)

by Apachacha and Nick Zverloff

Cover

Top Banana

Top Banana

Weird games can be good sometimes. They slip under the radar and turn into hidden gems. Some weird games are awesome, while others are pretty bad. Top Banana for the Amiga is just plain bad.

From the moment you turn this thing on you'll wonder if the game hasn't somehow corrupted itself. The visuals are a horrendous patchworked mess, appearing like a cross between morning sickness and a really bad Gustav Klimpt painting. In fact in some sections it looks like they used actual scans of from a Klimpt painting! Maximum effort has been made so that the backgrounds make it impossible to discern either enemies or item pick-ups. You wouldn't imagine it's supposed to be an environmental game – chainsaws and radiation logos are the only connection.

Top Banana

You have to climb up through the levels to escape an ever rising water level, kind of like Rainbow Islands, only infinitely less playable. Throughout there are enemies that have such poorly drawn sprites you can never figure out what the hell they are. Your main only mode of attack is throwing hearts, and there is only one upgrade. All it does is give you some range, but it's taken away the moment you get hit.

There are three items: a bullseye (weapon upgrade); faucet (stops the water for a short while); and the flower, which activates platforms. Unfortunately item functionality is insidiously broken: in order to collect them you first have to shoot them. Try to pick one up without shooting it first and it hurts you! Whenever an enemy or an item that you haven't shelled hits you, you not only take damage but also fall through the platform you're on.

The biggest flaw in Top Banana is the jump mechanica. There's no way to limit your height, which 90% of the time means you're going to hit an enemy as high as two platforms above you. For a game that boasts on the box that it's supposedly just as good as Mario or Sonic, this is really shameful. Making it worse is that the second world adds a section where you have to ascend before your separate ‘radiation' bar runs out. Not only do these areas invert the colours, but they speeds the game up by over 50%, making for a mercilessly painful climb. Out of 12 levels, 9 of them have this abhorrent mechanic.

And finally, even though you appear to have two hearts peeking from behind your score, this in fact means absolutely nothing, as you are only given one life to finish the entire game.

Top Banana

Top Banana

Top Banana


Arena / Arena Maze of Death - Game Gear (1996)

by John Szczepaniak

European Cover

Arena

Arena

American Cover

Given the subtitle Maze of Death for its US release, Arena was touted by EGM as being reminiscent of Shadowrun on the SNES, looking better than a Genesis title, possible Game Gear GOTY, and was awarded the Editor’s Gold stamp. One reviewer even coins this literary nugget: “What makes Arena a great game to play is that its best characteristic is how fun it is to play.” Unfortunately this is all so demonstrably incorrect, it seems more likely that the guys were playing the screenshots on the box than the cartridge inside. It also highlights the fallacy maintained by most print publications: the claim they complete a game prior to review.

Arena may have an isometric perspective and dystopian future like Shadowrun, but mechanically it revolves solely around navigating mazes, finding keycards and flicking switches to open doors. Along with the most mediocre premise imaginable is a combat system where it’s impossible to aim accurately due to the perspective, and such a chronic lack of ammunition it makes Resident Evil seem like an all-you-can-eat buffet. The enemies are bullet sponges, will infinitely respawn mere seconds after dying, and in later levels can kill you with one hit. Ammunition pick-ups meanwhile are one-time only and painfully scarce. You’ve got a knife, but it’s so useless you might as well be using raspberry jam.

It is ludicrously difficult. Every level contains bottomless pits which cost a life, and the designers chose to make these sections as frequent and frustrating as possible. There are lengthy conveyor belt sections where without warning drone guns will materialise to shoot you off. There are floating platform sections where you need to move from one to another, except stand still and the oncoming platform will knock you off. You’re supposed to push against it, but this often causes you to overshoot. The collision detection is dodgy at best and again there are enemies shooting you off. The best thing is that when you reach the labs these pitfalls, which you’ve been trying to avoid, suddenly become the mandatory means of accessing different areas! After the labs, these pitfalls will again kill you. Talk about counter-intuitive... Feeling that floating platforms weren’t infuriating enough, the developers also added teleportation pads to these areas for maximum confusion.

Later levels even introduce the concept of mazes which change shape, preventing you from memorising them. One minute a door leads into a lab, the next it drops you outside a warehouse. Selecting the Easy difficulty doesn’t really fix things, it just removes several levels – though perhaps this is for the best. The password system also only works every few areas or so, making it useless. The isometric engine for Arena might be fairly smooth, but the developers wasted it on a blatantly bullshit and badly executed idea. Still, you have to admit the European cover art is possibly the best cover art ever. If you're desperate enough to see all the game has to offer, we've screen-grabbed the entire thing.

Arena

Arena

Arena


View all "Arena Game Gear" items on eBay


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